ASA’S REFORMATION OF RELIGION.
(a) ADDRESS OF THE PROPHET AZARIAH BEN ODED (2 Chronicles 15:1-7).
This section also is peculiar to the Chronicle.
(1) And the Spirit of God.—Literally, And Azariah son of Oded, there fell upon him spirit of God (i.e., a holy inspiration). The prophet is unknown, except from this chapter. The name Oded comprises the same radical letters as Iddo (2 Chronicles 9:29; 2 Chronicles 12:15); but whether the same prophet or another be meant, is beyond decision.
Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah.—(Comp. Abijah’s speech, 2 Chronicles 13:4 : “Hear ye me, Jeroboam, and all Israel!”)
The Lord is with you, while ye be with him.—Or, Jehovah was with you (in the battle), because ye were with him (i.e., clung to him for help; see 2 Chronicles 14:11).
And if ye seek him . . . forsake you.—This generalises the preceding statement. It is a favourite formula with the chronicler. (See 1 Chronicles 28:9; and for the last clause, 2 Chronicles 12:5; 2 Chronicles 24:20; comp. also Jeremiah 29:13-14.)
He will be found.—Or, is found.
He will forsake.—Or, heforsaketh.
Without.—Lĕlō’, only here in this sense.
The true God.—Jeremiah 10:9 : “Jehovah is true God” (’elohîm ’emeth).
Teaching priest.—Kôhēn môreh. (See Leviticus 10:11; Deuteronomy 17:9; Deuteronomy 33:10; Deuteronomy 24:8; Ezekiel 44:23; Jeremiah 18:18; Malachi 2:6-7.) The priests instructed the people in the Torah, or divine Law (literally, teaching).
There was no peace . . . came in.—(See Judges 5:6; Judges 5:11; Judges 6:11.)
But great vexations.—For great confusions (mehûmôth). (See Deuteronomy 28:20, where mehûmah, “confusion” or “discomfiture,” is foretold as a punishment of apostacy. Here the meaning seems to be tumults, as in Amos 3:9. “The countries” are the territories or provinces of Israel, as in 2 Chronicles 34:33.
Did vex them with all adversity.—Had confounded (or, discomfited) them with every kind of distress. (Comp. Zechariah 14:13 : “A great confusion from the Lord.”)
Be weak.—Droop, or hang down (Zephaniah 3:16; 2 Samuel 4:1).
Your work shall be rewarded.—Literally, there is indeed a reward for your work; words occurring in Jeremiah 31:16. We have here the moral of the prophet’s address. The ruinous results of not “seeking,” and “forsaking,” Jehovah (2 Chronicles 15:2) have been briefly but powerfully sketched from the past history of the nation. The conclusion is, Do not ye fall away like your forefathers; but let your allegiance to Jehovah be decided and sincere.
Your work.—Of rooting out idolatry.
(2 Chronicles 15:8-15).
(8) And the prophecy of Oded the prophet.—Heb., And the prophecy Oded the prophet; without any connection. This is suspicious, and suggests the idea that “Oded the prophet” is a marginal gloss, which has crept into the text; especially as, according to 2 Chronicles 15:1, not Oded, but Azariah son of Oded, was the author of the prophecy. Possibly there is a lacuna, and the original text ran: “And the prophecy which Azariah son of Oded, the prophet, spake.” There is no variation in Heb. MSS., and the readings of the versions only show that the difficulty is ancient. (LXX., Vatic., “the prophecy of Adad the prophet; “but in 2 Chronicles 15:1 : “Azarias son of Oded;” Alex., “Azarias son of Adad the prophet;” Syr., “Azariah son of Azur;” Vulg., “Azariah son of Oded the prophet.”) these words and the prophecy, i.e., these words, even (or, that is) the prophecy. Epexegetical use of the conjunction.
He took courage.—Hithchazzaq, strengthened himself (2 Chronicles 12:13). The same verb as be strong chizqû), 2 Chronicles 15:7.
And put away.—Removed (1 Kings 15:12).
The abominable idols.—Abominations (shiqqûtsim): one of the many terms of contempt applied (to idols (Deuteronomy 29:17; 1 Kings 11:5; 1 Kings 11:7; Jeremiah 4:1).
The cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim.—The hill-country of Ephraim. In 2 Chronicles 17:2 we read again: “the cities of Ephraim, which Asa had taken.” It is generally assumed that in both passages there is a somewhat inaccurate reference to the conquests of Abijah recorded in 2 Chronicles 13:19; for hitherto Asa had had no wars with the northern kingdom (2 Chronicles 14:1; 2 Chronicles 14:6; 2 Chronicles 15:19). But Asa may have annexed some of the towns on his northern border without resistance, after his victory over Zerah. (Comp. the voluntary immigration into Judah described in 2 Chronicles 15:9.) Thenius, who fixes the date of Baasha’s attempt before the Cushite invasion, says that Asa seems to have assumed the offensive after Baasha’s retreat from Ramah.
And renewed the altar.—The context seems to imply that this “renewal” consisted in reconsecration, the altar having been defiled by an illegal cultus. So the LXX. and Vulg., ἐνκάινισε, dedicavit. The word, however, may only mean repaired, restored. The altar had now stood sixty years. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 24:4.)
And out of Simeon.—This tribe is again mentioned along with Ephraim and Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 34:6, although its territory lay “within the inheritance of the children of Judah” (Joshua 19:1). Perhaps a portion of the tribe had migrated northward (comp. Judges 18), and some of these now settled again in Judah. Genesis 49:7 speaks of Simeon as “divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israel.”
Another solution is, that although politically one with Judah, the tribe of Simeon was religiously isolated by its illegal worship established at Beersheba, similar to that at Bethel and Dan (Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14). But this hardly agrees with the next clause: “They fell to him out of Israel.”
They fell to him.—(1 Chronicles 12:19; 2 Kings 7:4.)
When they saw that the Lord.—They had heard of his great deliverance from Zerah.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.—This seems to indicate that the Cushite invasion took place not long before, perhaps in the spring of the same year (see Note on 1 Chronicles 20:1).
Of the spoil which they had brought.—The spoil of Zerah, the cities round Gerar, and the nomadic tribes (2 Chronicles 14:13-15).
To seek the Lord . . . with all their heart . . .—See the same phrase in Deuteronomy 4:29.
Whosoever would not seek the Lord God . . .—Part of the solemn oath of the king and people; a sanction prescribed by the law of Deuteronomy 13:6, sqq., Deuteronomy 17:2-6.
With their whole desire.—Or, assent; with perfect willingness. Vulg., “in tota voluntate.”
And he was found of them.—Or, was at hand to them; in accordance with the promise of Azariah the prophet (2 Chronicles 15:2).
The Lord gave them rest.—Another period of tranquility, like that mentioned in 2 Chronicles 14:6-7; and perhaps of equal duration. (See on 2 Chronicles 16:1.)
The mother of Asa the king—i.e., his grandmother. (See 2 Chronicles 13:2; and 1 Kings 15:13). Others have supposed that Maachah the mother of Abijah, and Maachah the “mother” of Asa, were different persons, the former being the daughter of Absalom, the latter the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. There are really no grounds for this. Maachah, the mother of Abijah, enjoyed the rank of queen-mother not only during his short reign of three years, but also during that of her grandson Asa, until deposed by him on account of her idolatry.
Queen.—Gebîrah, lady, mistress; but always used of a queen. Compare the position of Athaliah (2 Chronicles 22:2).
An idol.—Miphlètseth; a thing of fear; a horror; a term only found here and in 1 Kings 15:13. (Not as Merx suggests, nor a phallus, as others think. Comp. the cognate words in Job 9:6; Job 21:6; Jeremiah 49:16.)
In a grove.—Rather, for Ashērah (2 Kings 17:16).
Stamped it.—Crashed it. A detail added by the chronicler. So Moses treated the golden calf (Exodus 32:20); and Josiah the high place at Bethel (2 Kings 23:15).
A similar explanation applies to the apparent contradiction of 2 Chronicles 17:6 by 2 Chronicles 20:33.
Out of Israel.—Not in Kings. The southern kingdom is meant.
The heart of Asa was perfect.—Kings adds, with Jehovah. The meaning is, that though he failed to get rid of the high places, Asa himself was always faithful to the lawful worship of the Temple. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 28:9.)
The brief reference contained in that single verse of Kings is thus an evident confirmation of the chronicler’s narrative concerning the victories of Abijah and Asa, which he alone records.
In 1 Kings 15:16 we find a different statement: “And war continued between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days,” a statement which is repeated in 1 Kings 15:32 of the same chapter.
The chronicler has evidently modified the older text, in order to assign a precise date to the outbreak of active hostilities between the two monarchs. (Both 1 Kings 15:16 and the present 2 Chronicles 15:19 begin with the same two Hebrew words, meaning “and war was,” but the chronicler inserts a not).
The verse of Kings need not imply more than that no amicable relations were ever established between the two sovereigns. They had inherited a state of war, although neither was in a condition to make an open attack upon the other for some years.
The five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.—This limit does not agree with the data of Kings (seo on 2 Chronicles 16:1). Thenius suggests that the letter l, denoting 30, got into the text originally, through some transcriber, who inadvertently wrote the l with which the next Hebrew word begins twice over. Later on, some other copyist naturally corrected 2 Chronicles 16:1, to agree with this. Assuming thus that the right readings here were originally the fifth and sixth years of the reign of Asa, Thenius concludes that in 2 Chronicles 16:1 the letter v (i.e., 6) has been shortened into y (10); and that Baasha’s attempt preceded the invasion of Zerah. The false dates probably existed already in the source which the chronicler followed.